Ambivalence as Internal Conflict
Political scientists and psychologists recognize the presence of ambivalence in our attitudes, but conceptions of ambivalence are widely varied. Is ambivalence common or rare? Is it a subjective feeling that can only be measured by asking the individual, or is it an objective property of an attitude that can be measured without the respondent’s knowledge? Answers to this question may depend on the way ambivalence is defined. In the discussion that follows, we compare some of the various definitions of ambivalence that have been offered by scholars in the past. We argue that the concept has been employed too loosely in earlier research, and suggest a number of ways in which it can be defined in a more precise and productive manner. Specifically, we argue that “ambivalence” should be restricted to instances of strong internalized conflict which lead to increased response variability that cannot be reconciled as a function of additional information.
KeywordsResponse Latency Attitude Object Welfare Reform Internal Conflict Political Information
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